Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top 10 Odd Patron Saints

The importance of Saints is something that is debated, but is a part of many religions, particularly Christianity. Some denominations of Christian religion (most notably the Roman Catholic Church) have many patron saints. A patron saint is a saint that is an advocate in heaven of a certain person, activity, location, or illness. Because patron saints transcend into the metaphysical once canonized, they are able to carry out certain tasks and focus on certain needs when it comes to their own special patronage.

Though many pray to God, some Christians also pray to patron saints as a way to show their humility and true passion and love for God. Some believe that it’s better to pray to a saint than God, as it shows they are seeking an intercession and not an answer from God. Maybe it is true we all have some sort of angel on our side, since there seems to be a patron saint for anything and everything imaginable. Here is a list of ten patron saints that are a little ‘high in the clouds’. No pun intended.

10. St. Ambrose – Patron of Beekeepers

St. Ambrose was born into Roman nobility and educated himself in the Greek classics, Roman philosophy, and also became a poet during his time. There is a legend that as an infant a swarm of bees settled on his face while he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed tongue. Saint Ambrose was given the title ‘Honey Tongued Doctor’ due to his ability to calm the crowds and preach the doctrine to many.

Ambrose also made use of the bee metaphor in his writings, comparing virgins to bees:

“[40.] Let, then, your work be as it were a honeycomb, for virginity is fit to be compared to bees, so laborious is it, so modest, so continent. The bee feeds on dew, it knows no marriage couch, it makes honey….”

9. St. Anthony the Abbot – Patron of Swine & Gravediggers

Saint Anthony the Abbot’s relationship with pigs, and his patronage of swineherds is a little complicated. At the time, many skin diseases were treated with applications of pork fat, which helped reduced inflammation and itching. As Anthony’s intervention aided in the same conditions, he was shown in artwork often accompanied by a pig. People who saw the art work thought there was a direct connection between Anthony and pigs – and people who worked with swine quickly took him as their patron. Late in life Anthony became a close friend of Saint Paul the Hermit. He buried him, leading to his patronage of gravediggers.

8. St. Sebastian – Patron of Cranky Children

St. Sebastian lived in Milan and became a captain of the Praetorian Guard but the leaders, Diocletian and Maximian, were unaware that he was a Christian. During his time it is said that St. Sebastian performed miracles and converted many Romans to Christianity, while keeping his Christianity a secret. He became known as the patron saint of cranky children after helping to reconvert Marcus and Marcellianus, two boys who were arrested and were told to worship the Roman Emperor and make sacrifices to Roman gods. They were given the choice to leave Christianity behind or suffer a death sentence, and St. Sebastian convinced them to stay true their beliefs.

He was arrested for betrayal and sentenced to death. He was tied to a tree and shot with arrows but he survived. After being nursed back to health, he performed another miracle and was again ordered to be killed. This time he was sentenced to death by beating.

7. St. Bernardine of Siena – Patron of Hoarseness

Also known as the ‘Apostle of Italy,’ St. Bernardine was born to a noble family in a Sienese town. He was said to be very weak and hoarse at birth – this is how he became the saint of hoarseness. As a young man, St. Bernardine fasted and prayed as much as possible. At the age of twenty, he arrived at a hospital during a time when a plague was running rampant through the town. The plague had killed many as no one was sure as to how to cure or isolate the plague. To serve God and the people, he worked for four months to help the patients, as well as clean and organize the hospital. Near the end of the plague, St. Bernardine died of exhaustion.

6. St. Clare of Assisi – Patron of Television

Born into a prominent and rich Roman family, St. Clare spent much of her time practicing prayer and mortification. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies after hearing a sermon and becoming inspired to dedicate her life to God. St. Clare became the patron of television when she was extremely sick and unable to fully serve God as she fully intended to do. In fact, she was so sick she could not attend mass. However, she was able to have a strong visual that she was in mass and claimed to have seen and heard mass on her wall. This event led to her becoming a patron saint in 1958, as well as the saint of telephones, clairvoyance, eye diseases, and others. Her vision on the wall is strongly correlated to us today watching TV.

5. Gabriel the Archangel – Patron of Stamp Collectors and Postal Workers

Gabriel the Archangel is one of the most well-known saints. Gabriel is one of only three patron saints mentioned in the Catholic Bible. In the Bible, Gabriel acts as God’s messenger. He is known for bringing information regarding bearing children, and is popularly known for delivering a message starting off with the widely used ‘Hail Mary’. He told Zachary that he would soon have a son, John the Baptist. He also punished Zachary for his disbelief by making him mute. Gabriel told Mary that she had been the one chosen to bear the Savior. Because of this, many believe that he is the symbol of salvation of mankind. Gabriel makes the perfect patron saint of stamp collectors as well as postal workers, as his holy deeds included getting messages from one place to the next.

4. St. Drogo – Patron of Unattractive People

St. Drogo was born in Epinoy, Flanders. He was an orphan, which would play a large role in his life’s path. When he discovered that his mother had died giving birth to him, he began to feel extremely guilty and went to the extreme when it came to his penances. When he turned eighteen he got rid of his belongings and decided to take on pilgrimages to Rome, in order to show his guilt and live a more holy life. He went on about ten pilgrimages and then became a shepherd. On one pilgrimage he became sick with an unsightly bodily disorder that made him deformed. His looks frightened people in the town, so he had a holy cell built so that he could still attend church but not be seen. He lived on water, barley, and the holy Eucharist for 40 years. It is said that he could bilocate, being at two places at the once, but with his looks why would you want to see two of him?

3. St. Dominic Savio – Patron of Juvenile Delinquents

Born in 1842 in Italy, St. Dominic Savio was one of ten children. At age four he disappeared, but his mother later found him in a corner praying, unlike most of the other children. At age five he became an altar boy and at age twelve he joined the Oratory School in order to become a priest. Despite his age, Dominic knew all of his prayers, and often worried about other children who may be sinning and weren’t living as holy as he was. One day at school a boy brought a magazine full of inappropriate pictures and all of the boys gathered to look. He explained that they were sinning and the boys agreed to confession. Soon after, Dominic got sick and died. However, he stands as the patron of juvenile delinquents and the falsely accused. Despite his early death, he was able to save his classmates from becoming juvenile delinquents.

2. St. Isidore of Seville – Proposed Patron of the Internet/Computers

St. Isidore of Seville was born to parents who were well known for their piety. After his father died, he was raised by his brothers, and they soon became his father figures. Though he was poor, as was the rest of his family, he realized that God could possibly help him, so he became a priest to show his devotion. He became the Archbishop of Seville after succeeding his brother. During this time, he wrote plenty of literature, including an encyclopedia and a dictionary. St. Isidore learned, studied, and completed Mozarabic liturgy, spread Aristotle’s works throughout Italy, and was said to be the Doctor of the Church in 1722. In 1999 he was said to be the patron saint of the Internet because of his interaction of spreading information. He also became this certain patron saint due to his wide knowledge of information.

1. St. Fiacre – Venereal Diseases

Born in Ireland, St. Fiacre soon made his way to France and set up a hospice for fellow travelers. This is how he earned his fame as the saint of venereal diseases, as he often treated those with this sort of ailment when on his travels. After his journey, he became a hermit and sought holy isolation, as many people did during his time, since religion was seen as a way of life. However, because of his popularity due to providing healing herbs and other medicinal needs, Fiacre was usually surrounded by people wanting his herbs or wanting to experience his knowledge. Consequently, this didn’t allow him the isolation he wanted and sought, so he went to another saint, St. Faro, who gave him his own hermitage in Brie, France. Here he gardened, fasted, and held religious vigils. St. Fiacre is also the saint of gardeners and taxi drivers.


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